How to grow 3kg of strawberries a week...

19 November, 2013

Yes my friends. I am currently cropping anywhere between 2-3 kilograms of strawberry delight a week.

Witness exhibit A: today's harvest.

That is me holding the bowl I am using to carry the harvest, so give you an idea of the sheer size of the thing.

As well as the general strawbs I'm also getting decent harvests of raspberries and alpine strawberries in red and white varieties, just to keep things interesting.

But lets focus on the strawbs.

Today's harvest weighed in at just over 1kg (and yes, I did tare the scales with the bowl and then put in the strawberries) and I am picking this quantity every 2-3 days. This doesn't include all the bug eaten or slightly over-ripe berries, or those that get eaten while I'm picking.

Some are big whoppers.

Some are little tiddlers.

This is about as small as I'll pick them, as anything smaller just seems a waste.

To compare, here are the alpine strawberries.

Now, I did say this was a "how to" post, so here is how I've done it.

Firstly, give yourself a good 3-4 years to build up a stock of plants suited to your area.

(What? Did you think it was going to be something you can do in a weekend? No, but don't worry. Good things come to those who wait.)

2008 was my first year of growing strawberries. I bought 5 plants each of varieties 'Red Gauntlet', 'Torrey' and 'Lowana'. I would say don't bother with these, as I didn't really think the taste was that good and have since gotten rid of them. This inspired me to find particuarly tasty varieties. The same year I bought 'Hokowase', which is meant to be a particularly tasty berry. It died before I ever got to try one.

Then in 2009 I bought 20 plants of 'Cambridge Rival' which I got from Diggers Seeds as their catalogue reported it was top in their taste test. These were planted in the area between the house and garage which gets 6-7 hours of sunlight in the peak of summer.

Strawberry bed no. 1 - planted in 2009

The row between the short and tall bluestone blocks is where all the strawberries were planted.

All those plants produced maybe 5 berries in the first year. But they were each and every one a damn fine berry. Even now they are still producing well, even though most of the literature I've read says strawberry plants are only good for 3 years. This is their fifth year and they show no signs of slowing down just yet.

Even though the harvest was pretty meager there were plenty of strawberry runners, so these got planted out into other areas of the garden (2010).

This secondary area is in the backyard and is partially shaded by the house and so gets maybe 4-5 hours of direct sunlight each day in peak summer.

Strawberry bed no. 2 - planted out in 2010 and 2011

This area has taken a couple of years to build up, so is a mix of runners from 2010 and 2011's plants. This area is maybe 5-6 square meters of strawberry plants, with some inter-planted herbs and ornamentals. With the lesser amount of sunlight they crop later in the year, and only now have just started producing the first ripe berries when the main area has been going for about a month.

Even so the second year the harvests were pretty gosh-darn good. The 2011-2012 fruit and veg challenge documents when I first started documenting my crops show a crop of 12.25kg from October to April.

The following year (2011) this additional area, as well as the first area, produced an even more massive haul of strawberry runners, so much so that I was able to plant out the next area in the front yard as well as give away plants to family and friends.

Strawberry bed no. 3 - planted out in 2012

This area is around 6-7 square meters and gets all day sunlight. It has been killing it with produce and has produced the earliest strawberries for two years running and has produced probably 95% of my crop so far this year.

I also got a little adventurous and expanded my collection to include 'Alinta' and 'Aroma' which I grow in pots. The flavour isn't as good as 'Cambridge Rival' but is pretty tasty all the same.

The yield isn't that great but it's something different. If you want big yields I would plant in the ground for sure.

Looking back the additional crop from this area in its first year wasn't that fabulous. The 2012-2013 fruit and veg challenge documents show a crop of 14.8kg from October to May. So the additional area really only produced at best the extra 18% crop, assuming the other areas produced a stable amount.

But this year they are growing great guns. The crop in November 2012 was 7kg of berries. This year in November (and we are only in the third week of the month) the crop has been 6.5kg! Assuming a conservative estimate of another 1kg this week and 2kg next week that would be around 10.5kg this month. Which is roughly a 30% increase in yield.

That there is a pretty good investment. All from 20 plants that cost me around $70 from memory. I'm making a rough guess but all up I'd say I have somewhere around 200-250 strawberry plants now, all from those first 20.

Being generous and assuming a cost of $2 per punnet (what they were when I was at the market last week, and that was only for the regular non-organic berries) my harvest last year alone was worth $118.40.

Now it looks like an even better investment!

So while it does take a little time, growing ridiculously large amounts of strawberries isn't difficult if you have a bit of space, preferably with good sunlight although I'd say this is not essential. If you want to skip ahead a few years and buy a heap, say 50-100 plants, to start you'd probably be dealing with my problem of too many strawberries in 1-2 years.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and plant some strawberries.


  1. If only I had somewhere to put them....just thinking what I could sacrifice for the sake of that amount of deliciousness. Hmmmm perhaps my whole garden.......

    1. They are very easy to put in under and around other plants. And as priorities go I'd put them up there.

  2. This is very inspiring! I'm sure once our garden has been emptied of builders and debris, there will be lots of empty pockets clamouring for strawberries!

    1. Well if you would like some runners later in the year feel free to email me!

  3. Hi Bek. What put me off planting the Cambridge rival was that the nurseries say that they only fruit from Oct to Dec. You harvest right up till May? Because of that reason, I planted Lowanna, because it fruits most of the year round. The fruit is not as sweet as some, but the kids still like them, and usually get to them before I do. (Dean)

    1. I know! I went with them purely for taste reasons thinking they would be a short crop, but while in their first year they only cropped in December, since then them and all their offspring have consistently cropped from November to May. I am picking probably around half a kilo a week at the moment and I reckon they will pick up as they stop flowering in really hot weather, and with the recent cool spell have put out a bunch more flowers.
      Honestly, I know I'm being picky on flavour. Any homegrown strawberry is usually pretty darn tasty!

    2. Bek, where is the best place in the Northern suburbs to buy the Cambridge rival?

    3. Hi Stasi. I have no idea if anyone else near you stocks them, but I got mine from diggers and they have their online store if you don't want to head to Dromana or Blackwood. Maybe Ceres might stock it, or sometimes nurseries can order things in. Good luck.

  4. Hi - this might be a long shot, but I was wondering if you might still have a few runners of Cambridge Rival you might be interested in passing on or selling? Mine all died in a heatwave last summer and I can't seem to get hold of Cambridge Rival anymore. I live out near Hurstbridge, but would be happy to travel to pick them up if you were keen on selling a few of your own? They're such a great strawberry!

    1. Hi Lisa. I'm more than happy to dig you up a few. Email me at beksbackyard [at] gmail [dot] com and we can work something out.